Doing Life Together


When you hear that phrase, what goes through your mind? Take the short quiz here and see how you deal with conflict. Now that you know your primary style, let me ask you a few more questions:

1. How do you feel when you watch or participate in conflict?

2. Are you comfortable with the idea that conflict is a part of life?

3. Do you avoid conflict at all costs?

4. Do you care more about winning than the person involved in the conflict?

5. Do you wish you had better skills?

6, Do you want to handle conflict in a way that is healthy, not problematic?

7. Are you tired of being angry or upset with someone?

8. Is there a difficult person in your life that is driving you nuts?

9. Would you rather cut off a relationship than work though it?

If any of these questions resonate with you, We Need to Talk will be an important tool in helping to make your relationships work.

In We Need to Talk, my hope is you will find yourself readjusting your expectations and becoming more flexible. Most of all, you will learn to approach relationships with the idea that conflict can be managed, tolerated, and handled. Finally, you will become more skillful at knowing how to promote relationship reconciliation and repair the damage we sometimes do to each other. In the end, the words “We need to talk” won’t send chills down your spine or make you want to run for the hills!


Dr. Linda Mintle’s new book, We Need to Talk is now in stores. Learn how to successfully navigate conflict in your relationships.


ID-100105897Jack was the victim of child abuse growing up. Then, his mother died and he became a ward of the state, in and out of foster homes. His childhood was not only filled with abuse and trauma, but abandonment. As an adult, he suffered from depression and anxiety.

Many people have stories like Jack’s –some less traumatic like growing up in a home with a depressed mom, an alcoholic dad, critical parents who fought continuously,etc. We know the psychological and emotional fall out of such events, but what about the physical effects of trauma, abuse, and psychiatric disorders?

A new study gives credence to the idea that a rough childhood ages a person on the cellular level. The study published in Biological Psychiatry looked at 299 healthy adults and assessed them for  psychiatric disorder diagnoses and childhood histories of  adversity like abuse, neglect and parental loss.

What researchers found was that childhood stress and psychiatric disorders were linked to cellular changes, especially those who experienced major depression and anxiety disorders, parental loss or childhood maltreatment. When researchers analyzed DNA,  specific cellular changes important to the aging process were found. Thus, childhood adversity may accelerate the aging process.

This study supports the idea that we have to be better at preventing childhood maltreatment and help children deal with significant loss and trauma at an early age.


Source: Audrey R. Tyrka, Stephanie H. Parade, Lawrence H. Price, Hung-Teh Kao, Barbara Porton, Noah S. Philip, Emma S. Welch, Linda L. Carpenter. Alterations of Mitochondrial DNA Copy Number and Telomere Length with Early Adversity and Psychopathology. Biological Psychiatry, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.12.025

ID-10041651Please, put away your cell phone! We are eating dinner. 

Get off the video game now. You have homework to do. 

How many hours have you spent on Facebook? How about a real conversation?

I admit, I tend to focus on the negative impact of too much screen time. We know, from studies, that too much screen time can lead to every thing from obesity to impaired brain function. But are there any upsides to screen time?

Like most things, even screen time is not all bad. Although I will say that an excess of screen time and what you do on screen time do matter.

Sandra Calvert, director of Georgetown University’s Children’s Digital Media Center, says screen time can boost two executive function skills in the brain–reasoning and problem-solving. She also notes that when games like MIT-developed, Scratch, are played, a child’s hand-eye coordination and logic skills can improve.

Nicholas Carr, author of The Glass Cage, believes visual acuity gets better.

Addressing possible positive social effects of screen time, Lee Humphreys, associate professor of communications at Cornell University believes people can spend well meaning time on screens. She doesn’t see screen time as a complete blockage of all social engagement, reminding us that people have used media to isolate before. Think hiding behind a newspaper or book when you didn’t want to interact with others.

Still, I add caution to these positives because of what we know about brain changes related to excess screen time. Excess screen time can lead to kids who are moody, impulsive and attention challenged. And the multiple studies that show atrophy of gray matter in the brain, can’t be denied. And so it goes… best advice is still the biblical one. Moderation in all things.


PrintJim and Rachel are at it again. They can’t seem to agree on so many issues and all the fighting is taking a toll. Like so many of us, this couple needs help navigating conflict in a way that grows, not destroys, their relationship.

“We need to talk . . .”

It’s amazing how these four short words can stop a conversation and grip us with momentary anxiety. Let’s be honest, these words usually mean something is wrong and we are about to go into the world of feelings, a place not everyone likes to visit. If you are smart, you won’t begin a conversation with these four words. The phrase “We need to talk” puts most of us on the defensive.

“We need to talk” takes time and energy. It can be exhausting and doesn’t always end with a quick fix. But the idea behind “We need to talk” is important to making our relationships work. It’s our cue that something needs to be addressed.

How do you respond to these four words? Take the free conflict style assessment to find out. Do you embrace the idea or run for the hills?

One reason this phrase makes our hearts skip a beat is because so many of us are uncomfortable working through relationship conflicts. For whatever reasons, we don’t have the confidence that we can face conflict without causing more problems. And we don’t like the way conflict makes us feel.

But conflict is woven into our daily lives. It shows up often—in political arguments, disagreements with co-workers, fights with siblings, and marital bickering. Its consequences can bring the end of a marriage, friction between friends, or loss of a job. Thus, this ever-present conflict can keep us stuck or it can provide growth in our relationships. To deal with conflict, we do need to talk.

Conflict is a part of all close relationship. Under the right conditions, conflict can grow intimacy and bring satisfaction to relationships. And in unhappy relationships, conflict escalates problems and distress and needs to be addressed.

Conflict is difficult to handle because it involves other people, and we can’t fully control other people. While that reality makes us uncomfortable and complicates things, we do control our part in any conflict situation. Our reactions matter when we need to talk. We focus on the part we control, not on what someone else is doing or not doing. This shift in focus is critical.

In the best of situations, confronting conflict brings positive results. Relief is felt once the issue is addressed. We learn more about ourselves and more about others. We see that relationships can be repaired, people can reconcile, and problems can be solved. A deeper understanding, closeness, and mutual respect can develop when we do talk.

Dr. Linda Mintle’s book, We Need to Talk is now available.